The Technical Congress has decided to take a funnel approach to the construction of the IJRU rule set. This means we are starting our conversation in broad terms. Each individual decision we make will be based off our larger vision and help guide the development of specific rules. In order to facilitate this approach, we began our discussion in Norway with a conversation about the specific components of a winning routine. During this conversation we asked the following questions: What makes a routine enjoyable to watch? What elements should be rewarded? What should cause deductions? This big picture conversation has helped us to narrow our focus and categorize the different elements of a winning freestyle routine, which will in turn help guide the creation of the rule set and judging system. The list of elements below have been identified by the Technical Congress as essential to a winning routine. In this post, we will list each element and provide some background information about why it was selected. We feel that a winning routine should be:
Varied (in both style and skill)
The Technical Congress feels that routines should be entertaining to watch. One way to do this is by encouraging athletes to avoid repetition and create routines that incorporate a variety of different elements (i.e. multiples, power/gymnastics, rope manipulations, partner interactions, turner involvement, etc.).
Original (something unique and different)
We would like athletes to continue to create new and exciting skills that push the sport forward. This can be done by awarding originality through the judging system.
Performed well under stress (in competition and with an audience)
To be an elite athlete, it is important that individuals can perform at their top level under pressure and in front of an audience. Usually the difference between champions and the rest of the field is being able to hit a routine in competition when it counts. Therefore, routines that are performed well and with few errors should be rewarded in the judging system.
Technical (athletes should use proper form)
A routine that is enjoyable to watch is often one that is performed well. Not only does the athlete include difficult skills and creative elements, but also excellent technique and form. This can vary depending on the athlete’s style. An elite athlete’s technical ability should almost make a routine appear easy. This includes, but is not limited to good posture, pointed toes, straight lines, etc.
Choreographed to music
Music, when used properly, can raise the overall performance of a routine making it more entertaining. As such, the music shouldn’t exist as background noise, but should be an integral part of the performance, with the athlete fully committed to the choreography. Athletes should use the music to guide their choreography by hitting accents, jumping to the beat, and/or communicating an overall mood or emotion.
Difficult (include many difficult, but not dangerous skills)
A winning routine should also be packed with difficult skills. We feel an individual should not be able to win by choreographing and performing an easy and well-executed routine. Therefore, difficulty should be substantially rewarded. Although we want to encourage athletes to attempt difficult skills that push the boundaries of athleticism, we also want to keep athletes safe. Athletes should not be encouraged to include difficult or dangerous skills in their freestyle routines, unless the skills have been perfected. Attempting skills for which the athletes are unprepared can lead to injury. This is something that the Technical Congress needs to explore further, but it could be addressed through the education and training of jump rope/rope skipping coaches and/or through the judging system.
Clean (few mistakes, reward cleanliness)
If an athlete’s routine includes a significant number of mistakes, we feel this detracts from the performance. Therefore, mistakes should result in some form of deduction from the score. This will encourage athletes to train their routines to perfection. That being said, we also want athletes to attempt difficult skills in competition in order to raise the “wow factor” of the sport. A balance will need to be met between the ways in which mistake deductions are weighted against the difficulty level of the routine.
Entertaining (routines should be fun to watch even for those not in the sport)
In order to grow the sport by attracting new members and reaching new audiences, routines need to be entertaining to watch for those both inside and outside of the sport. We want to find a way to encourage our athletes to create entertaining routines using a combination of difficult and original skills, promoting the use of music and choreography, and rewarding technique, style, and overall performance abilities.
Athletic (display athleticism and stamina)
The IJRU is committed to getting jump rope/rope skipping recognized as an official sport by all member countries. In order to promote jump rope/rope skipping as a sport, we need to be able to demonstrate the raw athleticism and stamina that is necessary to be successful at a world level. Our sport incorporates many of the fundamental skills of sport, including strength, agility, balance, coordination, and speed. The events that we compete at the world level should highlight these skills.
Not too long and not too short
We can address the length of routines directly in the rule set by setting a maximum time limit. The Technical Congress wants to make sure that the length of the routine doesn’t inhibit athletes from continuing to perform difficult and high energy elements throughout. If the time limit is too long, the end of the routine could appear strained or filled with easy tricks. One way this could be addressed is by ensuring that the time limit isn’t too long and/or rewarding skills performed at the end of a routine with a higher difficulty score. We also don’t want the time limit to be too short because this may detract from an athlete’s ability to include entertaining choreography and creative elements. A balance will need to be reached.
Scored accurately (ability to differentiate skills at all levels and between routines)
The Technical Congress identified difficulty as a key component of a winning routine. In order for difficulty to be consistently and correctly rewarded by the judges, it needs to be relatively easy to differentiate between the different difficulty levels. We are committed to creating a difficulty judging system that is easy to teach and implement. This can be further supported through the use of technology and digital tools. Limiting the amount of human error in our judging procedure will help to ensure that difficulty is rewarded accurately throughout an event.
A demonstration of all types of skills with no weakness in any area
A winning routine should not rely too heavy on any one element. For example, a routine that is comprised solely of a variety of multiples will become boring to watch as a result of the repetition in movement. We can address this issue by including required elements in the judging system.
Many of the elements of a winning routine identified above overlap in significant ways. After reading through this list, it becomes quite apparent that a winning routine must be put together in a creative way, performed and executed at a high level using proper technique, and there needs to be a variety of difficult and original skills. Over the next few months, as we build the IJRU ruleset and judging system, we will make sure that we are working towards rewarding routines that include what we have identified as the winning elements. Please take a few minutes to fill out the survey below and let us know what you think. Have we missed anything? Are some of these elements more important than other? We look forward to reading your feedback and answering your questions.
Last week, we announced the events that will be competed at the IJRU World Championships in 2020. So far, we have received a few questions that we wanted to address.
Will teams in the overall categories continue to be comprised of 4-5 people?
The Technical Congress discussed this at length in Norway and took into consideration a number of different jump rope/rope skipping systems from around the world. It has been decided that teams can consist of anywhere from 4 to 6 people. This is slightly different than the system currently used by both FISAC-IRSF and WJRF. Adding the option for another athlete on a team will make the sport more inclusive globally.
How will the single rope events be weighted in the individual overall category? Is freestyle equally weighted to the speed events? Triple unders as well?
This is not something that the Technical Congress has finalized at this point. Does anyone have suggestions or thoughts around weighting in the individual overall category? We would be happy to engage with community feedback as we discuss this and make our final decision.
Until next week,
The IJRU Technical Congress
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